Financial services is a field that encompasses a wide variety of careers, such as a financial analyst, personal finance advisor and financial manager. The major a student chooses to focus on depends largely on the school they attend and their area of interest, but degrees may include business administration, accounting or financial law.
There are several bachelor's and master's degree programs that prepare people for careers in financial services. Some of the more common majors may include finance, business administration, accounting, economics, mathematics, financial law, or statistics. Several of these programs allow students to specialize in certain areas, although that varies by school. While there are many job options to consider for graduates, some typical career paths may include becoming a financial analyst, a personal financial advisor, or a financial manager.
|Career Titles||Financial Analyst||Personal Financial Advisor||Financial Manager|
|Education Requirements||Bachelor's degree||Bachelor's degree||Bachelor's degree|
|Licensure/Certification||Licensure usually required||Licensure sometimes required||Voluntary certification available|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||12%*||30%*||7%*|
|Average Salary (2015)||$95,320*||$118,050*||$134,330*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), these professionals review and analyze investment options for organizations and individuals. Most financial analysts work in either buying or selling stock options, although they may review other types of investments as well. As they analyze investments, they review historical data, current market trends, and other factors that could affect investments. Analysts then provide their clients with reports and recommendations on which investments to pursue. Additional job titles in this field may include fund manager, risk analyst, portfolio manager, or ratings analyst.
Education requirements for this career typically include a bachelor's degree in finance or a related field, per the BLS. More advanced analyst positions may require candidates to hold master's degrees. Since analysts participate in buying and selling investments, licensure is generally required, and individuals obtain licenses through the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). Certification is not always required for financial analysts, but employers may be more likely to hire certified professionals.
Personal Financial Advisor
These professionals are similar to financial analysts, except they work with individual people and discuss investments as well as financial strategies for taxes, retirement investments, and insurance. Personal financial advisors work with customers to determine each customer's financial goals, and then advisors develop plans to achieve these goals. Advisors may also provide customers with financial education. Both wealth managers and private bankers are considered types of personal financial advisors, per the BLS.
Education requirements vary by employer, but most prefer advisors who hold at least bachelor's degrees in a finance-related field. There are various licensure requirements depending on the services advisors provide. Those who buy and sell stocks, for instance, must obtain licensing through FINRA, whereas those who buy and sell other items may have to be licensed or registered through the Securities and Exchange Commission. There are several voluntary certification programs that advisors can pursue, and certified advisors often have an easier time finding job opportunities.
These professionals generally work at organizations where they oversee all financial matters. They often run budgetary reports, determine spending habits, and implement policies to meet organizational financial goals. There are many types of financial managers, including cash managers, insurance managers, credit managers, risk managers, and controllers.
To become a financial manager, applicants require at least five years of experience in some financial-related position or field. Individuals also need the minimum of bachelor's degrees in fields related to finance. There are no licensure or certification requirements for financial managers, but a large number of these professionals do hold industry certification.
Job Outlook and Salary Information
During the decade between 2014 and 2024, employment is expected to increase 12% for financial analysts, 30% for personal financial advisors, and 7% for financial managers, per BLS data. As the baby-boomer generation nears retirement, more people will seek the input of personal financial advisors. The economy and financial markets will also play a major factor in the increase or decrease in financial services jobs.
As of May 2015, the BLS reported that the average annual salary for financial analysts was $95,320. BLS data from that same year showed that personal financial advisors earned average annual salaries of $118,050, and financial managers earned $134,330.
Financial service jobs usually only require one to have a bachelor's degree and licensure to obtain a position in the desired field. However, most graduates are encouraged to pursue certification in that it boosts their probability of standing out from other candidates and advancing in their career.